Thursday, September 17, 2009


The Age of Empathy” (written by Franz de Waal) is best seen as a corrective to the idea that all animals—human and otherwise—are selfish and unfeeling to the core. It offers not only plenty of examples to the contrary, but also some hints as to how and why empathy evolved, and how it might be related to self-awareness. In the case of humans, one might think that it is hardly necessary to get the professional opinion of a zoologist on the matter. Don’t we already know that people can be rather good at co-operating, and are not always mercilessly hostile towards their rivals? Yet Mr de Waal does manage to spring some pleasing and intriguing surprises on this score: how many people are aware, for example, that most soldiers are unwilling to fire at the enemy, even in battle?" (Economist, 3 September) RD

1 comment:

JimN said...

Interesting. Sounds like an updated version of Kropotkin's 'Mutual Aid'.